Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are becoming more and more mainstream every year, especially as gas prices continue to rise and charging infrastructure improves. 

Electric vehicles (EVs) have an electric motor which is powered by electricity stored in a battery. An EV’s range can be between 100 to 300+ miles, depending on the make and model. 

A little girl and her father charge their EV

A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV), on the other hand, has a battery that can power the vehicle for 20-55 miles. For most drivers, day-to-day driving can be done fully in electric mode. When the electric charge is used up, it switches to gas and drives like a conventional car. 

It’s worth noting that PHEVs are different from traditional hybrids like Toyota Priuses, which have a battery that assists the gasoline engine and helps with efficiency, but cannot operate on electricity alone.

Benefits of EVs and PHEVs

Compared to gas powered vehicles and traditional hybrids, both EVs and PHEV cost less to fuel and to maintain. PHEVs produce less tailpipe emissions since they operate frequently in electric mode, while EVs produce no tailpipe emissions at all.

Common concerns

Some people are hesitant to buy EVs because of  “range anxiety,” or a fear that they won’t be able to charge their car in order to make it to their destination. Most EV drivers do their charging at home overnight, either from a regular outlet or from a Level 2 charger. 

For road trips, drivers rely on public charging infrastructure (learn more about home and public charging). If you can’t charge at home and/or commonly take long trips without good public charging infrastructure, then an EV may not be the right choice for you at the moment, but a PHEV may still be a great option.

A common misconception about EVs is that because of the size of their batteries, they are not actually better for the environment. While it’s true that the batteries are costly to produce, a study from the University of Michigan found that EV emissions – including from manufacturing – become lower than emissions from gas vehicles after about 2 years (learn more).

Additionally, people often claim that charging your EV with electricity generated by fossil fuels also negates the environmental value of the EV. There is some merit to this argument – however, the electrical grid is getting cleaner by the day, and as a consumer you can opt into purchasing 100% renewable energy to power your EV.

Consider alternatives to cars, too

Another alternative to driving is riding a regular or electric bike, which can supplement cars or in some cases replace them entirely. Depending on how much you ride, you can save money on fueling your car and reap the health benefits of getting outside and being more active.

An man wearing a helmet puts a battery on his electric bicycle

There are many different types of e-bikes available – from cargo bikes designed to haul groceries and/or children, to foldable commuter bikes that are light and can easily be stowed in tight places.

If you live in a place with public transportation, consider how you might leverage trains, buses, or other modes rather than driving your personal vehicle. Public transportation is often more economical, and has the added benefit of reducing traffic congestion and outdoor air pollution.

Get personalized guidance

Canopy is your personalized guide to going all-electric. We help homeowners and renters make their homes more sustainable and comfortable, all while lowering their energy bills.